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Fleeing Felon

On the night of November 16, 1986, West Jordan Police stopped a pickup truck at 2700 West 5600 South on suspicion of drunk driving. The driver, Boyd D. Harper, 40, had been paroled October 14th from the Utah State Prison after serving 18 months for aggravated assault. During this routine traffic stop, Harper sped away with officers in hot pursuit.

The pursuit entered I-15 and was joined by troopers of the Utah Highway Patrol. The fleeing felon accelerated to 100 miles per hour. Several times troopers attempted a boxing technique; however, Harper would swerve toward the troopers in an attempt to ram the patrol cars. Harper exited at 12400 South and drove west to 1300 West. On 1300 West he drove north to 11400 South, then turned west. Finding Redwood Road blocked ahead, Harper made a U-turn and collided head-on with Trooper Michael Cowdell’s patrol car.

As the officers approached, Harper grabbed a shiny metal object from the front seat. Trooper Larry G. Wehrli fired one round from his .357 revolver, striking Harper in the face. Even after being shot, Harper attempted to back the truck from the scene. Harper was flown by helicopter to LDS Hospital. The shiny object turned out to be a can of starting fluid.

Following an extensive investigation by the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office, it was ruled that Trooper Wehrli’s actions were justified. Bud Ellett, Chief of the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office, stated, “I’m sure that every trooper out there has a quick recollection of Trooper Brinkhurst’s shooting.” He then added, “I sure don’t envy those guys out on the street.”

Harper was charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault and one felony count of failure to respond to a peace officer’s signal or command to stop. Following his discharge from the LDS Hospital, Harper was returned to the Utah State Prison for parole violations.